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A report called “Agroecology to Cool Down the Planet” submitted in December in Durban, South Africa, during the United Nations’ COP17 on Climate Change warns that the current agri-food system is responsible for over 35 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The report states that agroecology could reduce gases currently emitted by the agricultural sector. The change in the system implies a "small-scale production and trade of food, short channels, and especially a diversification of agriculture", contrary to the model of monoculture plantations. This is what Tom Kucharz told Real World Radio. He is member of Ecologistas en Acción, the Spanish organization that wrote the report.
“In Europe we still have many possibilities to go back to an agriculture with peasants”, said Kucharz, coinciding with La Via Campesina demands. "This would mean to change the Common Agricultural Policy and bet on food sovereignty", he added, what would generate “millions of jobs” through a system without “big landowners or monoculture plantations” and with a mixture of “extensive sustainable agriculture and livestock farming.”
Real World Radio interviewed Kucharz at the COP on Climate in Durban. There the activist made reference to the new report by Ecologistas en Acción and regretted the current intensification of industrial agriculture at world level. Nevertheless, the interview focused largely on the role of the European Union (EU) at the climate change talks and against other crises.
“The EU has been trying for years to appear concerned at international talks about the environment. And we need to clearly point out that the EU is part of the problem, not the solution”, said Kucharz. “Their transport, energy, trade, investment policies and the promotion of large European transnational corporations in the world are clearly the cause of a large environmental crisis”, he explained.
The Spanish activist considered the European bloc arrived to Durban with the intention of being the leader of climate talks, and that’s why it took on a “political commitment” in light of a new period of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding agreement that forces rich nations to reduce emissions. But this commitment didn’t match the small emission reductions proposed by the EU in addition to the following conditions: more carbon markets and false solutions (like the carbon market itself, GMOs, tree monoculture plantations, nuclear energy, among others).
Kucharz believes the EU is only trying to ensure new environmental markets in the sector of services (renewable energy industry) for its transnational corporations. "If the EU really had the political will to confront the climate crisis it would have to close down coal plants, it would have to stop importing, extracting and burning coal, it would have to reduce the use of fossil fuels and other natural resources in a drastic way, it would have to change its agricultural policies", said the activist. “And if it really had political will, it would put an end to offset mechanisms, false solutions such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and its carbon market”, he added.
The activist also assessed that the EU carbon market "has failed” and warned that the bloc has increased its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 5 per cent in 2010.
Real World Radio also asked the activist about the proposal to include agriculture in carbon markets. Kucharz referred to the initiative as a new “false solution” and said that it threatens with new massive forced displacements of indigenous and peasant populations by companies involved in the carbon and agricultural markets.
Kucharz also made reference to the way the European bloc has dealt with the economic-financial crisis in the past years, “We are witnessing a Coup d’ Etat by the financial markets, we are witnessing a technocratic Coup d’Etat in the EU”, he said. “Many of the leaders that are now Heads of State in Greece, Italy or the President of the European Central Bank come from Goldman Sachs, one of the largest investment banks in the world that have caused the financial crisis and are also causing the volatility of the food market for speculating with agriculture and food in the world”. “This is the situation now in the EU, a bloc that is following the interests of the large banks of the financial system”, he criticized.
According to numbers provided by the Spanish environmental activist, the EU has spent since 2008 4.3 trillion Euros “in order to rescue the capitalist financial system, large corporations, helping private banks with public funds”. He also said: “the richest countries spend 487 billion per year in public subsidies to fossil fuels. This money should be spent in the fight against climate change and in the payment of the environmental and climate debt the EU owes the countries of the South”, he concluded.
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